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'Coming of Age' Treasures

Episode:76Te Papa Collection:History

Suggested curriculum levels:3 – 8

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, Social Sciences: Identity, Culture, and Organisation

Description:Turning 21 has always been a big deal, even during wartime when cake decorations were forbidden! Take a look at two treasured collections of 21st birthday memorabilia.

Questions for students

  1. Watch the Tale again, noting the items and events that were typical of a 21st birthday in the 1930s or 1940s. What changed over that period of time? What stayed the same, in spirit at least? How could international events far away affect a personal occasion?
  2. What has changed now? Think about the age people are today when they are considered to be adult. Think about how these occasions are marked privately, socially or legally. Use the 'Then and now' response template to compare aspects of 'coming of age'. List aspects such as age, gender, legal changes and celebration across the top, then for each aspect, compare the evidence in the Tale with what happens now.
  3. There were many shortages of everyday items during World War II. Why do you think paper was in short supply? What does 'rationed' mean? What other items might be rationed?
  4. Compare this Tale with Episode 74: Sacred Masks to gain another perspective on 'coming of age'. Why do you think this time in a person's life is so significant to their community? What historical, cultural, social and/or economic reasons might account for the importance given to reaching adulthood?
  5. Imagine you are living in the 1930s and about to turn 21. What kind of celebration would you plan? Write a story or a play that captures the importance and excitement of this time in your life.

Related templates:

Then and now